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This week fifteen residents and experts from uranium-impacted communities flew into DC to discuss the hot-topic issues affecting the places where uranium is mined.

Citizens from Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming came to talk to staffers, members of Congress, and Senators to raise awareness of the serious environmental impacts and public health concerns that occur as a consequence of uranium mining.

Along with nearly 50 meetings with House and Senate staff, the group was able to speak with the EPA, CEQ, BLM and Forest Service. Some of the major issues discussed included the need for remediation of thousands of abandoned uranium mines, addressing the archaic 1872 Mining Law and the inadequate regulation of uranium mining. The group also asked for support of HR 4817 and S 2830, which would allow all funds from the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) eligible for cleaning abandoned uranium mines and HR 5119 and S 3224, which would amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to provide expanded compensation for those affected by the uranium mining industry.

Overall, it’s clear to me that the meetings were a success. In just two days, the group was able to raise awareness on the uranium mining issues and gain some support from house members. With the potential of increased demand for nuclear power, we hope that many members of the House and Senate will first address the legacy issues of uranium mining and consider the harmful affects that the nuclear power industry would have on small mining communities.

For more information:

  • Information on SMCRA: http://www.osmre.gov/topic/smcra/smcra.shtm
  • Congressmen Teague, Luj n and Heinrich Bill : http://lujan.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=567:bill-would-fast-track-clean-up-of-old-uranium-sites-create-jobs-in-new-mexico&catid=49:2010-press-releases&Itemid=78
  • Information on RECA: http://www.justice.gov/civil/torts/const/reca/
  • Information on RECA amendments HR 5119, SR 3224: http://tomudall.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=483